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YMMV / Battle Royale

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  • Applicability:
    • Word of God is that the film is an Allegory for The Generation Gap in Japan, hence the usage of Battle Royale Act for curbing youth protests and Kitano's terrible relationship with his daughter. However, Fukasaku acknowledges other themes, such as Japan's economic crash of 1991, an event that occurs in the beginning of the movie and kicks off the subsequent events.
    • The movie's concept of Japanese students competing to be the lone survivor has led some viewers to believe the movie to be criticism of Japan's ultra-competitive university entrance exams. In the film, one student even states that he has to survive to "get into a good school".
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    • And that was just Japan. Its plot about the government forcing high school students to kill one another hit close to home for Americans raised amidst an epidemic of school shootings in the 2000s and '10s (many of them inspired by the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, one year before the film was released), and many of them read into its plot a metaphor for the older generations' apathy towards the issue of violence in schools and gun violence more broadly.
  • Arc Fatigue: In the manga, the final battle between Shuuya, Noriko and Shogo against Kiriyama. It drags on, they think they finally shot Kiriyama and then he reappears. The worst is one chapter, where nothing happens. It's filled with nothing but pages of Shuuya pointing a gun at Kiriyama and thinking of all the students that have died because of Kiriyama and wanting him to know that he's about to die...Just shoot already!
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The movie will randomly cut to screens full of text copied from the book, whether it matches or not.
      • It also has random cuts to the guys in the control room.
      • And a scene where the teacher shows up to give Noriko an umbrella, accidentally(?) saving her from Mitsuko. It really doesn't add anything and there is no logical reason to do so.
    • Chapter 70 Warrior of Light has an infamous reputation for being utterly ridiculous and irrelevant to the plot.
    The rain was falling but she couldn't think about that right now, for she was about to fulfill her most important mission...
    ...As a space warrior
  • Broken Base: Everyone generally likes the novel, and will typically also like either the film or the manga, but rarely both. Any of the three may be preferred though, and huge arguments are inevitable when trying to posit one version over the other. Especially on the most active forum for it, which is at IMDB. A film forum.
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • The film version of Kazuo is a sadistic Blood Knight who volunteered to join the Program. At one point, he even kicks the bodies of his dying victims. Thankfully, Shogo with some help from Shinji manages to kill him.
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    • In addition, it is very satisfying to watch Shuya, Shogo, and Noriko get the upper hand on the soldiers and the Administrator, the real villains who put their classmates and them into the Program in the first place.
    • The manga is generally more cathartic than the book as Shuya manages to maintain his optimism and shows mercy to his enemies more often, even proving himself to Shogo, who initially was dismissive of Shuya's positive outlook and later ends up telling Shuya to never change. The manga also confirms that Shuya and Noriko do make it to America whereas in the novel, the fate of Shuya and Noriko is more ambiguous.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Kinpatsu Sakamochi (novel) is the sadistic director of the Survival Program, and a Professional Butt-Kisser and Psycho Supporter of the Government. Willing to hurt anybody that stands in his way, he murders Mr. Hayashida, Class 3-B's teacher, for protesting the Survival Program. To show that he means business, he displays his corpse to the class. During the briefing on the Program, he casually tells the students that some of their parents died trying to stop him. When Yoshitoki Kuninobu asks what happened to he and Shuya's caretaker at the orphanage, he brags about raping her, which sets off Yoshitoki and prompts Sakamochi to kill him. To really twist the knife, he reveals that he was lying about raping the caretaker just to piss Yoshitoki off and give him an excuse to kill somebody. He later then throws a knife at another student just for whispering, and shoots Noriko in the leg for protesting his actions. He takes joy in dashing the hopes of the students competing, such as when Megumi tried to call her parents, only for Sakamochi to intercept the call and taunt her. Throughout the game, he'd make snarky comments at the expense of the dead students. At the end of the book, he reveals that he has children of his own, but would gladly sacrifice them in the Program to boost his own reputation. He even made sure to brainwash his kids into accepting that fate. He then learns that Shogo managed to disable Shuya and Noriko's collars, leading him to attempting to shoot Shogo before meeting his own demise.
    • Yonemi Kamon (manga) is the administrator of the Battle Royale Program, where high school students are forced to kill one another. His hobbies are watching students kill each other, killing students and joking about said students' deaths. After taking a school bus full of students including Shuuya and Yoshitoki to be transported into the Program, he later mentions that he also went and raped an orphanage director Shuuya and Yoshitoki had grown close to. Unlike the movie portrayal of the Director, Yonemi doesn't even pretend to buy into the crap about maintaining order or protecting the honor of the Empire. He enjoys raping and killing, and is a huge fan of the Program because he gets to see teenagers deal with gut-wrenching emotions before dying horribly. Even soldiers are visibly nervous around him.
    • Kazuo Kiriyama from The Film of the Book stands in contrast to his emotionless counterpart from the book and manga versions. Kiriyama in the film is a ruthless and psychopathic Blood Knight who voluntarily signed up for 'The Program' to be able to hunt down teenagers for fun. Throughout the film, Kiriyama racks up the highest kill count, not caring if his victims are helpless or not, and after gunning down one girl, he uses a megaphone so everyone around can hear her pain and his execution of her. While he never speaks a word, his Slasher Smile throughout the film speaks volumes for how much he is relishing his murder of everyone around him.
  • Creepy Awesome: Kiriyama gives us the scariest scenes, but a lot of fans like him, for several reasons.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The film loves this trope.
    • The most memorable example is Toshinori's death; in the original novel, Kazuo merely shoots him in the face, but in the movie, Kazuo chops his head off with a sword and then stuffs a grenade into his mouth, using the head as a bomb.
      • The Manga as well. Since he has a bulletproof vest and a helmet on, Kazuo figures the best place to shoot him, is...his crotch. With a machine-gun.
    • Kyoichi tries to shoot Shuya, but Shogo blows off his arm. Now most of us would have give up there, but Kyoichi goes for his fallen arm, pries the gun loose with his teeth, and tries again. Only to take a shotgun blast through the gut. At that point, he would probably have tried to throw his entrails at Shogo, but the author decided to let him rest.
    • Another occurs in the film version during Mitsuko's death. Kiriyama shoots her point blank in the chest: she gets back up. He shoots her again: she gets back up. He shoots her again: she gets back up. She finally dies after the fourth shot.
    • Kitano's death scene in the film. Having just revealed that he thought of Noriko as a daughter, he wants her to kill him, even threatening to shoot Noriko if she doesn't fire first. Instead, Shuya whips out his gun in retaliation, shooting Kitano to protect Noriko; as he falls, Kitano fires, showing that the gun in his hand was a mere water gun. A still-jittery Shuya fires again. Then, Kitano's cell phone starts ringing. Kitano, seen lying on the floor, presumably dead for a good seven or so seconds, immediately rises to his feet like nothing happened and answers the phone. He soon gets into an argument with his daughter Shiori, and in anger, throws the phone across the room and pulls out a real gun to blow it to smithereens. And if that wasn't enough, he samples the last of Noriko's cookies and remarks "Damn good cookies" before finally dying for good on a couch. It is impossible to take this part seriously.
    • The manga's depiction of Kiriyama's death. Gets repeatedly shot and is still as much of a threat as before. Then Noriko shoots him through the cheek, Kiriyama falls to the ground...and then proceeds to get up in a fashion like a doll made out of rubber, twisting and contorting his body to strange positions, all while still trying to shoot the others. It becomes a total joke.
  • Cult Classic: The film especially, which exploded in popularity overseas thanks to Netflix streaming it in The New '10s. It's even cited as a direct inspiration for Player Unknowns Battlegrounds, which itself spawned a video game genre named after the film.
  • Die for Our Ship: Kayoko. Well, Takako Chigusa is one of, if not the coolest and most popular female character in the series. Granted, Kayoko does die. Not that it helps Chigusa.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: The prevalent fandom attitude towards Mitsuko, who is a backstabber, a murderer (as well as the only student to have killed someone before the Program), and possibly even a rapist - explicitly so in the manga. May have been designed as such, the author having admitted she's his favorite female character.
    • To say that Kazuo has fangirls would be a massive understatement.
  • Ending Fatigue: In the manga, Kiriyama takes forever to die, surviving Noone Could Survive That situations twice in quick succession.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Shinji Mimura is an interesting example. The main idea for his character was to seemingly be a Decoy Protagonist by making him have the qualities your typical hero would have, and to make it seem like he would be the Big Good (He's going to hack the program and save the heroes!). But instead he gets killed off by the Empty Shell antagonist to cement his status. However, fans actually liked this smart rebellious hacker and his story arc, and were actually quite bummed he died. It really doesn't hurt that he comes the closest (and is indeed the only one to try) to overthrow the government. This has led to many people wishing he had survived and tried to take on the government in the sequel (This is probably a popular fanfic).
    • Takkako Chigusa is actually more well known then most of the protagonists thanks to the crotch stabbing scene in the movie. Even without that, most people see her as a badass character in her own right in all versions, and it really doesn't hurt that most people think she makes a better love interest for Hiroki than Kayoko. Retroactive Recognition probably also plays a part (Chiaki Kuriyama, who played Chigusa, would go on to play Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill).
    • Hirono from the Manga is surprisingly popular thanks to her Adaptational Personality Change to the jaded Only Sane Man of Mitsuko's group. As well as her almost joining Shuuya's group. Her death is extremely sad, especially when you consider she was one of the few side characters that had a chance of surviving.
    • From the movie, Keita Iijima is actually seen as a surprising standout, due to his awkward laughter at horrible moments, the fact he's a genuinely nice guy who is best friends with Shinji in this version, and his surprisingly potent last words before he dies. This is a pretty notable improvement from his awful version from the manga.
  • Evil Is Cool: Kiriyama is a nigh unstoppable killing machine in all three versions.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Kiriyama and Mitsuko are the most evil male and female participants respectively, and also the most attractive; Mitsuko's sex appeal in particular is given a lot of focus. This also undoubtedly factors into Kiriyama's insane popularity among fans of the movie.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Needless to say, Battle Royale fans and fans of The Hunger Games do not get along, sometimes due to the latter's greater popularity.
  • Fanfic Fuel: Let's be real, the entire killing game setting is this.
    • Kiriyama flips a coin to decide whether to become a villain or try to escape. Had that coin flipped the other way, what would happen? Given his kill-count and insane competency, it's entirely possible he and the other students would be capable of escaping the game and possibly fighting back against the government.
    • Speaking of, Shinji actually arranging an escape would be an interesting read, or at least a cathartic one.
  • Fanon: Mitsuko is either a Depraved Bisexual or Psycho Lesbian. There is only one implication in the novel as evidence, as Mitsuko obviously prefers men to woman. It's batted about as commonly as "Shuya is the hero" (which is true) however, and fanfiction featuring Mitsuko that don't put her as one of those is all but non-existent. Seemingly even her expies in Original Battle Royales require it.
    • That's not really surprising considering she's an empty shell who goes around seducing men with no emotion, especially when you consider her backstory. (Seriously, she displays more emotion over killing Takako than anything else)
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Almost (though not quite) universally, the second film. Due to the Broken Base however, all three versions have been hit with this depending on which version is favoured by that particular fan.
    • Ironically, most fans hate the manga "Blitz Royale". One of the most disliked aspect is the cartoony art that just doesn't go well with the plot, among other things.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: There are a lot of fanfictions dedicated to Shinji and Takako.
    • A lot of people prefer Hiroki/Takako to Hiroki/Kayoko, most likely because of how Hiroki dies
    • Shuya/Pretty much anyone but Noriko in the manga, because in the manga, you could probably remove Noriko and the difference would be minimal (aside from Shuya legally winning?). Example Manga ships include Shuya/Shogo Shuya/Hiroki, Shuya/Shinji and Shuya/Hirono.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Kiriyama's bright red-orange hair in the movie bears some similarities with mass murderer James Holmes
    • And that's not even mentioning the countless times where school shootings have made the idea of school kids killing each other extremely unsettling. The Columbine shooting caused the North American distribution of the film to be delayed for over ten years, and the Virginia Tech massacre caused the American remake to be stuck in Development Hell.
    • The beginning scene where Nobu attacks Kitano with a knife can come off as this. In September 2021, Kitano's actor Takeshi Kitano was attacked by an assailant with a pickaxe.
  • I Am Not Shazam: The words "Battle Royale" are never uttered once in the original book; the "Alternate Universe" prologue makes it clear that the title is a reference to the kind of conflict the Program involves. In the manga, there's only one easy-to-miss All There in the Manual reference to the "Greater Eastasia Combat Experiment 68, also known as the Battle Royale Act".
    • This does not apply to the other film version - there, the colloquial name for the Millenial Education Reform Act is "The Battle Royale Act". The logo also appears to be officially used by the government.
  • Idiot Plot:
    • In the film, after an economic recession, the adults have lost confidence in themselves and are afraid of the youth to the point that they pass a law to justify pitting them against one another in a Deadly Game. This is intentional on the film's part as the director's intent was to comment on the generation gap between Japan's youth and elderly and on the state of Japan after the 1991 economic recession. This course of events is justified by the fact that Japanese society has seemingly collapsed after the recession.
    • The Translated manga has the odd explanation that the games are being used for television. Don't think about that too much.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Mitsuko, because of her Freudian Excuse.
    • Mitsuru. Yes, thug he may be, but it's hard to not feel at least a little bad for him (especially in the manga) when he spends the majority of his narrative time going on about how amazing Kazuo is and how he's sure they're going to win the Program, and how he's Kazuo's best friend...only to be shot by him and realize in his dying moments that Kazuo never cared about him, nor about the rest of the gang, at all. It helps that, according to Yumiko, he was nice to girls, and he wasn't in on the plan to rape Izumi.
    • Some of the students who went insane and tried to kill their classmates, like Yoshio Akamatsu, Kyoichi Motobuchi, Kaori Minami or Satomi Noda. After all, they're nothing but normal students, suddenly thrown in a deadly game where it's "kill or be killed". They couldn't handle the situation and snapped, but they weren't "evil".
    • In the sequel film, the Schwarz Katze gang consists of Delinquents who've had loved ones killed in terrorist attacks caused by the Wild Seven.
    • In the same film, another delinquent Kazumi Fukuda ends up getting her collar detonated solely because her partner died. Her final moments have her begging her classmates to help her and being reduced to tears.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Shogo, capable of surviving for hours with a bullet in his stomach and killing people with pencils.
    • Kazuo, the terminator forged from the finest Plot Armor.
    • Shuya, throw a grenade at him? He'll jump 20 feet in the air and throw it back!
    • Shinji. Everything about Shinji really.
    • Hiroki from the manga, for his insane martial arts skills.
    • Takkako. Try to hit on her and she'll destroy your crotch.
  • Memetic Loser: Movie Oda.
  • Misaimed Fandom: While the story is about the terror of the violent, hopeless situation, a lot of young viewers see it as a cool action flick.
    • Some quasi-sociopath fans seemingly wish they could enter the program with their class.
    • Amazingly, there are fansites dedicated to admiring Kazuo.
  • Moral Event Horizon: By default, you are forced to cross it if you want to survive the Program.
    • The politicians who set up the Program crossed it by default.
    • If Sakamochi didn't cross it by forcing a junior high school class to slaughter each other and happily telling them the rules, he definitely did when he raped the orphanage caretaker and then cruelly taunted Yoshitoki about it, causing him to explode with rage and get himself killed. Especially once it's revealed that he lied about it.
    • Kazuo Kiriyama has the most notable crossing, however, because he did it in such a gratuitously cruel and sadistic way; by gunning down Yumiko and Yukiko while they were sending a message by megaphone to stop fighting. The film version of Kiriyama takes this even further by turning on the megaphone and broadcasting Yumiko's dying cries, then shooting her several more times for good measure.
      • From the point of view of the narration, he probably even crosses it when he decides (on a coin toss) to play to win.
    • Kazushi Niida crosses this with his attack on Chigusa in all three versions.
    • Yuko Sakaki feels she has crossed the Moral Event Horizon when she poisons one of her friends, which causes suspicion and sets off the whole massacre in the lighthouse. When she understands what her action has caused, she is Driven to Suicide.
      • Made even slightly worse by the poison being intended for Shuya who earlier in the film had accidentally killed another classmate, making her think that Shuya would kill them too. Yuko Sakaki committed suicide because of her Murder by Mistake, though that's not to say killing Shuya wouldn't have tipped her over the edge anyway.
    • In the manga, Mitsuko raping a dying Yuichiro, although she wasn't exactly compos mentis at the time.
      • She may have crossed it a lot earlier, when she murders a defenseless Megumi Eto, especially because she does it so casually and with no remorse whatsoever. The event shows three important things about Mitsuko: she plays to win, she will do it without hesitation and she's ready to lie, manipulate and backstab in order to do it.
      • Also she had her Mother and Stepfather murdered...not that they didn't deserve it.
  • More Popular Replacement: Shuya in both the Film and the Manga take a Pinball Protagonist and give him personality and a reason to be the main character.
  • Narm Charm: Warrior of Light!
    • Also Hiroki's fight with Kazuo
  • Nausea Fuel:
    • Mitsuko's complete mental breakdown and slow death at Kazuo Kiriyama's hands in the manga. Also a bit of a Tear Jerker.
    • To some, the amount of Gorn in the manga in general. Some of the deaths are very gruesome.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Almost every scene towards the end. The premise itself counts.
  • Older Than They Think: Lampshaded in the beginning of the book in which the narrator discusses a pro-wrestling battle royale.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Almost anyone except the core half dozen may count depending on your preferences. Two are universally agreed upon though; one is Chigusa, who is definitely one of the best known characters despite having only two significant scenes, and they're consecutive. The other is Yukie Utsumi for the Lighthouse scene.
  • Paranoia Fuel: The premise itself is a wonderful/horrifying example of this trope. You'll never look at your friends the same way again after seeing/reading this.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • The Scrappy: A couple...
    • Sho from the manga goes from reasonably well written gay/effeminate character, to lustful drag queen with an oral fixation. Thankfully he dies really quickly.
    • Kayoko from the Novel, for a rather irritating personality and shooting Hiroki.
    • Keita Iijima, in contrast to his film counterpart, is despised in the manga for taking Adaptational Villainy too far, turning him into an actual Dirty Coward who tries to throw Yutaka under the bus, all while making an ass of himself and making all the worst decisions physically possible. It almost makes you cheer when he gets shot in the face.
    • Niida in pretty much every version, but especially the Manga where he's a completely remorseless killer and rapist. Then Takako kills him And There Was Much Rejoicing.
  • Sequelitis: Battle Royale 2: Requiem, up to and including the hamfisted attempt to tie in the 9/11 attacks. The extended version, Battle Royale 2: Revenge is considered better than Requiem, though not to redeem the worst flaws. Maybe because there is only one novel, that doesn't go beyond the lore of the first movie.
    • Also the obscure In Name Only sequel to the manga, which should be avoided if possible.note 
  • Signature Scene:
    • The First Movie:
      • The row call scene before the Program begins.
      • The crotch-stabbing scene.
      • The final confrontation with Kazuo.
      • The last Kitano scene, for how utterly bonkers it is.
    • The Second Movie:
      • The "Merry Christmas" Speech, which has been considered even by people who hated the second movie to be the best scene.
      • Kitano's talk with his daughter on what he thought was her birthday, mostly for being the only scene Kinji Fukasaku filmed before he died.
  • Squick: The manga does not believe in the Discretion Shot. The novel and film aren't immune from this either, with all three versions of Niida's death being very brutal, and in the film Kazuo finishing off Yumiko by putting the megaphone to her mouth so that her dying moans are audible before firing his Uzi down the length of her torso definitely qualifies.
    • The manga also does not shy away from nudity and rape scenes.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: In the film the person in charge of the program is their 9th grade teacher, making this game personal. This doesn't really go anywhere outside of Noriko's relationship to him.
    • It would have been cool seeing a lot of the key students resisting the program (Shogo, Noriko, Kawada, Shinji, Yukata, Hiroki and the lighhouse girls) banding together for the climax, but mostly they remain separate from each other throughout the story.
  • Too Cool to Live: Shinji Mimura, who, in the opinion of many, at least in the manga does a better job as a protagonist in his subplot than the actual main character.
    • Arguably near the end of the story Kawada also qualifies, because if he lived, he'd be overshadowing Shuuya in his victory over The Program.
    • Hiroki in the manga was shown to be an expert at evading attacks from people pointing guns at him, including Shogo Kawada at one point; if he lived, the scene where Kawada pretends to kill Noriko and Shuya would lose some tension (and credibility). Plus, it's reasonably clear that if he took on Kazuo with the other protagonists they would have had a MUCH easier time.
    • Hirono in the manga.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Oda in the novel was a reasonably competent survivor who used a helmet to force people to shoot at his bulletproof vest. When Kazuo shoots him there, he plans to either wait until he walks away to grab his gun and shoot him, or wait until he goes for his gun to stab him with a hidden knife. In the manga he makes the odd decision to fake a death rattle when Kazuo assumes he's dead.
    • To say nothing of the movie
  • Uncanny Valley: Kazuo's expressionless, dead-eyed appearance in the manga.
    • The manga's depiction of drawing children can come across as...creepy, due to their heads being bigger and rounder, which makes their bodies look all the more spindly and horribly unbalanced.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Two of the students do have a mobile phone, which is treated as unusual. And Megumi is even ashamed of it and sees it as something her parents forced onto her. This dates the book to a quite narrow window.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Although Kazuo is the primary antagonist and a sociopath to boot, he has quite the fan base.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Several instances with Japanese cultural ideas that would will be lost on unknowing Western audiences, such as Kitano nonsensically answering a phone call and eating the last cookie from the bag after he's been machine-gunned and supposedly dropped dead on the couch.
    • The classroom scene also qualifies as it parodies what is a very Japanese style of schooling.
    • The idea itself was inspired by student protests throughout Japan in the late twentieth century, which gives the idea some semblance of Reality Subtext that doesn't exist in the West.
  • Vanilla Protagonist: Of the seven designated main charactersnote , Shuyya and Noriko don't really have a lot going for them personality-wise. However-
    • Noriko in the movie is given more focus, being the only really decent student in the school and having an Odd Friendship with the teacher of the killing game.
    • Shuya in the manga has a massive hero complex, anti-government issues long before the program rears its head, introduces himself to people in an Adorkable manner, rocks on a guitar and sings about his feelings, etc. and is generally a more fleshed out character. He doesn't even get together with Noriko, implying he wanted her to survive equally as much as everyone else, only making her a priority because his friend loved her.
  • What an Idiot!: Now has its own page.
  • The Woobie:
    • Megumi was bullied by Hirono in school. Her first scene has her hiding under a table, crying and wanting to go home. The memory of the strawberry tart her mother made for her was especially sad.
    • Shuuya and Noriko, who are forced to watch/hear about all their friends being killed and/or going crazy and trying to kill others. They are left as the only survivors.
    • Let's be honest: every student who refuses to kill qualify, especially if they end up being forced to kill in self-defense.

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